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Chinese author sues Google over book scanning

Owen Fletcher | Dec. 17, 2009
The copyright infringement suit adds to resistance in China to Google's e-library project

BEIJING, 16 DECEMBER 2009 - A Chinese author has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Google over its book-scanning program, adding to opposition the project has faced in China.

Well-known author Mian Mian is demanding compensation of 60,000 yuan (US$8,770) from Google for scanning one of her books and showing portions of it online, the state-run newspaper China Daily said Wednesday. The suit is the first brought against Google by an individual in China, the report cited Mian's lawyer as saying.

Google is scanning hundreds of thousands of books for its Google Books service, often without advance permission from copyright owners, so users can search out and preview the works online. The service has faced a legal challenge in the U.S., where Google has worked with groups representing authors and publishers to form a class-action settlement now awaiting final court approval.

The Google service has also come under fire from Chinese authors and local media in recent weeks. One group last month demanded that Google compensate Chinese writers whose works the company scanned without permission.

Google Books complies with U.S. and Chinese law and the company is confident of a favorable outcome in the suit brought by Mian, a Google spokeswoman said in an e-mail. The company has removed Mian's book from the service in keeping with a policy of honoring authors' wishes, she said.

"In China like everywhere else, if a book is in copyright we don't show more than a few snippets of text without the permission of the rights holder," she said. "Google Books promotes and encourages book sales."

Mian's lawyer has gathered evidence for the case even though her novel scanned by Google, titled Acid Lover, has been taken offline, China Daily cited him as saying.

Mian has demanded a public apology from Google, the report said.

"Google earlier argued that they didn't violate copyright law as they only displayed a small amount of text of my book, but I think their move has seriously hurt Chinese writers' rights," the paper quoted Mian as saying.

 

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